Kids KO in Muay Thai

I used to envision having kids and sending them to train and fight in Thailand at a young age. Now that I actually have kids it doesn’t seem like something I want to do. I guess it is the fear that your child might get hurt that has changed my mind, which was something I never really thought about until watching a knockout like this. I sat back and though about it a little more and the reason I wouldn’t have my kids do this is because they don’t need to. This, however, is no the case for many young kids growing up in poor rural areas in the Thai countryside.

Should children be allowed to fight? There will never be a definitive answer to this because it is all based on opinion. I understand the culture and why this happens, and I am not opposed to it. Unfortunately it is something that many will continue to frown upon, mainly those that are on the outside of the sport looking in. The ones that don’t take the time to research the art and the culture are always going to criticize it.

I am not saying it is okay to simply grab two kids and put them in a ring to fight. Situations are different all over the world, and in Thailand this is a way out. Take a look at Buakaw, the biggest name in the sport. He was born in the Surin Province of Thailand, which is a rural and poor area. He began his fighting career at 8 years old. Would he have found the success he has today if he had started fighting at a later age? Something tells me no.

Becoming a superstar like Buakaw is no the norm, but this is why these kids fight. This is their chance. It is no different than the eight year old in the United States or the United Kingdom that spends all his time shooting hoops with dreams of making it big. These kids have dreams, the only difference is they have to literally fight in hopes of achieving them.


  1. While this is certainly a shocking example, it doesn’t seem fair to discuss this topic without noting the vast difference in cultures between Thailand and the west. In Thailand, fighting is often in poorer situations as a way for children to support their families (not necessarily their own decision), and in no way reflects the state of the juniors Muay Thai scene in the western world. In the UK at least, protection is a requirement, with body armour, shin guards and head gear. They’re also highly controlled and more importantly out of choice, for enjoyment and passion. There’s even been a recent controversy amongst certain members of the Muay Thai community disagreeing with a recent kids fight.

    So to discuss the topic of kids competing as if it’s all the same as it is in Thailand is a bit disingenuous.

    • We do mention that before criticizing you have to try and understand the culture. It is also mentioned that this is a way out of poverty for them and that unlike others their options are limited.


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